Boeing Frontiers
May 2003
Volume 02, Issue 01
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Integrated Defense Systems


Boeing teams with Utah State University to promote aerospace careers


INVEST FOR TOMORROWInvesting in the education of its future workforce is a priority for Boeing. From K-12 to the university level nationwide—and in countries where the company operates—Boeing is committed to supporting programs and institutions that implement a strong curriculum in math, science, business and engineering.

Three years ago, Boeing donated an infrared sensor test chamber to Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory. Valued at more than $1.9 million, this equipment provides SDL with a unique resource to test and calibrate systems such as small satellites and optical sensors in a simulated space environment.

Boeing's major investment in Utah State has reaped big rewards by helping promote the pursuit of aerospace careers among its students. As an example, Kevin Smith, a recent graduate of Utah State, said this experience has given him a greater foundation and understanding of space and the aerospace industry.

"The V2 chamber has given me an opportunity to increase my understanding of both the pressure and temperature that would be found in a space environment," Smith said. "In helping redesign the control console, I was able to familiarize myself with various monitoring systems, and I learned a respect for the sensitivity of equipment used in space applications."

Smith led the team that refurbished the V2 chamber. He was involved in the disassembly of the chamber at the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems facility in Seal Beach, Calif., three years ago and worked on the testing and documentation of current system status. He is now an SDL employee and, as one of the V2 facility experts, knows the system from the inside out.

SDL and the space program

Utah State University owns the Space Dynamics Laboratory, which works closely with a variety of the school's colleges and departments, including engineering, physics, agriculture and business. SDL/USU has flown more shuttle experiments than any other university or industry organization. Its mission is to provide its customers with innovative, world-class sensor systems and responsive support of their requirements.

SDL has participated in 25 shuttle flights with 59 experiments to date, including numerous student experiments flown as Get-Away Special payloads. It has also fielded more than 400 successful payloads since the lab was founded in 1959. These projects have ranged from ground-based, rocket-borne and balloon-borne instrumentation to orbiting satellite-based sensor suites and aircraft-borne, real-time reconnaissance systems.

The Space Dynamics Laboratory has more than 350 employees. About 100 of them are undergraduate or graduate students. These students are employed not only in hands-on support functions such as accounting, property management, technical writing and logistics, but in technical positions in which they work side-by-side with designers, engineers, technicians and computer scientists on projects ranging from research-anddevelopment programs to sensorsystem- development efforts.


"Boeing's contribution of the test chamber to Utah State enhances our ability to provide test, measurement and calibration services to our customers, such as industry and government partners," said Yvonne Duncan Polak, manager of Proposals and Marketing Communications for SDL. "Because SDL provides so many hands-on learning opportunities to Utah State students and interns from across the nation, hundreds will learn valuable career-boosting skills and gain the experience before entering the workforce."

The test chamber resides in the newly constructed Calibration and Optical Research Laboratory at the university's SDL facility. The university developed an additional building for SDL's growing needs, and the test chamber became an integral part of the architect's design for the SDL Calibration and Optical Research Laboratory.

This state-of-the-art building opened in October 2002 and has nearly 40,000 square feet of clean rooms, integration bays, laboratories, offices, and specialized test and measurement facilities, as well as a high bay and control room devoted to the V2 chamber and associated equipment. The V2 suite of equipment, recently renamed the Thermal Optical Research facility, underwent a complete refurbishment and test process during its reassembly in the new SDL building. It will be fully operational and ready for business sometime this month.

"Boeing's contribution to Utah State has made a real difference in the quality of research at the Space Dynamics Laboratory and especially our new Optical and Calibration Facility," said Kermit Hall, president of Utah State University. "Boeing's support means that we will have higher quality science and a strong space program as a result. We are indeed grateful for such support." Forrest Allred, who serves as the Boeing executive focal for Utah State, is watching with interest the influence that the V2 chamber donation is having on students. Allred, an engineering graduate of Utah State, is currently the site engineering manager in Clearfield, Utah, for the Boeing Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program, a component of the Air Force Systems business.

"As executive focal for Utah State University, I look forward to seeing the impact that this donation will have on the students who are receiving real-life work experience at the SDL," Allred said. "Over the years, I have had the opportunity to promote technical excellence at Utah State through our internship programs, scholarships, recruiting and funding of laboratory equipment. We have hired several interns from Utah State over the years as well as graduates in both engineering and business. Boeing's donation to the SDL will only enhance these efforts."

Allred is also a member of Utah State's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Advisory Board. He meets with the board regularly to advise the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department in such topics as engineering curriculum, K-12 development, diversity issues and industrial interface. A key concern of the board is to assure that graduating students develop the skills and knowledge germane to current business conditions.

"Not only do the accomplishments of the SDL encourage young people to pursue a technical career at Utah State, but the practical skills developed by students working on projects associated with the Space Dynamics Laboratory create a more capable recruit for companies like ours," Allred said.


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